More than 70 innocent Kashmiris, mostly young civilians, died and thousands other wounded during month-long protests and clashes in the disputed region as the Indian Prime Minister delivered his annual Independence Day speech in the national capital on Monday.
August is a month freedom for both Pakistan and India between which Kashmir remains divided since the end of British colonial rule in 1947 since both claim the territory in its entirety.
Tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, have died in the fighting since 1989 when the armed rebellion against Indian rule erupted.
Hurriyat leaders staged a ‘referendum march’ on August 13 and 14, despite a curfew, in the held part of Kashmir seeking either independence or a merger with Pakistan.
The march led by Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq successfully reached Srinagar’s famous Lal Chowk amid forceful confrontation by the Indian forces.
In the town of Tral, prominent separatist leader Asiya Andrabi and over a dozen women were injured when Indian forces fired sat them through pellet guns in a bid to disperse them.
Authorities have imposed a curfew in large parts of Kashmir, India’s only Muslim majority state, since July 9 during an upsurge in violence sparked by the killing of a top separatist commander.
Although Modi made no direct reference to the situation in Kashmir in his annual Independence Day speech on Monday, he made a general appeal for youths to steer clear of violence.
“I want to tell these youths that this country will never tolerate terrorism, this country will never tolerate terrorists and this country will never bow down to terrorists,” he said.
Modi met national party leaders on Friday to seek ways to end the worst unrest in Kashmir since 2010, but there was no agreement to send an all-party delegation to the region for talks to try and calm tensions there.